BB makes allowances for streetside dining, retail sales

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A waiter delivers food to people eating May 16 in the outside “Trap Yard” at the Blue Marlin Seafood Restaurant, 121 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach. Islander Photo: Ryan Paice

The lingering COVID-19 pandemic is challenging restaurants and retailers to squeeze out an income going forward.

Bradenton Beach officials want to give struggling businesses an opportunity to make up for lost revenue.

City commissioners voted 5-0 May 14 to approve the first reading of an ordinance lifting land development code restrictions to allow open-air dining and retail sales on private property. It will allow businesses to use adjoining sidewalks and rights of way to expand their sales and seating.

It will allow for more customers than what is allowed under the state’s 50% capacity for indoor seating at restaurants and retail customers as of May 18.

The ordinance would allow a business to convert up to 50% of its on-site parking spaces to outdoor dining and retail space.

However, no handicap-access parking can be included.

Businesses also would be permitted to erect tents in outdoor dining and retail areas, as well as ignore setbacks for the temporary placement of equipment.

The ordinance states that the commission “desires to promote safer operational standards for local food establishments, while also helping local businesses as Florida begins its economic recovery from COVID-19.”

The policy would remain in place for the duration of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Executive Order 20-112, as well as throughout any subsequent orders limiting occupancy, seating capacity or mandating social distancing requirements for such businesses.

City attorney Ricinda Perry said the city would close public parking spaces on the south side of Bridge Street from the intersection of Bridge Street at Gulf Drive to the westernmost side of 119 Bridge St. She said the parking spaces would be converted into a “pedestrian walkway” separated from traffic with signage and vertical delineators.

Commissioners unanimously approved spending $800 on delineators.

Mayor John Chappie said caution tape would be tied between delineators to cordon areas from the street.

The cost would be included in the city’s reimbursement request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for COVID-19 relief.

The ordinance calls for the city to create an application that requires a business name, proof of insurance, contact information and a sketch of how the business would use its outdoor area.

Perry said the application would be posted to the city’s website, There would be no application fee.

Commissioners reached consensus to create a form before the final reading so businesses can apply for immediate consideration if the ordinance passes.

Violation of the ordinance would result in the business forfeiting the area used for expansion.

A hearing and final reading for the ordinance will be held at noon Thursday, May 21, via teleconference. People can participate via Zoom by joining the meeting ID 137-695-523 and using access code 072455.

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